Archive for the 'Chicago Blackhawks' Category

6 Things About Beating the Blackhawks

1. That was a great game.  Each team controlled the play for long stretches, and in spite of the low score, it was never boring.  You REALLY have to give it up for Patrick Lalime who played a totally solid game, particularly in the first period when the score could have very easily been 3-0 in Chicago’s favor.  One of the best parts of the night was seeing the bench enthusiastically congratulate him.   Very charming, and very deserved.  It’s fun to be happy for Patrick Lalime.

2. On Twitter before the game I was pitching a total fit about Lindy playing Lalime instead of Miller against Chicago.  My reasoning for hating the decision was that Chicago is a GREAT team (more on that later), and by sticking Lalime in there, Lindy was in essence setting him up to fail.  My feeling is that if the Sabres are going to get anywhere this season, the back-up MUST win a few games, so the smart move would be to play him against weaker teams.  The only argument I got from the folks on twitter that made any sense to me was that if the Sabres lost, at least the points would stay in the Western Conference.  I suppose that makes sense from a standings perspective, but it’s really throwing the back-up under the bus, and it could have rendered Patty totally useless for the rest of the season.  What if he had been totally lit up?  Wouldn’t we be in another Thibault situation where Lindy has ZERO faith in the back-up?

BUT, Lindy and Patty sure showed me.  Lindy’s gamble paid off, and Lalime did the unthinkable- he played the shit out of that game.  Yay, Patty!   I apologize for having so little faith in you, Patty.  You deserved better.  I can’t wait until you play again……in February.  Heh.

3. While I was squawking that Lindy should be fired and that the team should be systematically dismantled (I was kind of being an argumentative d-bag on twitter last night.  These things happen.  Feel free to boo me), the following conversation was had:

(Incidentally, I love Ryan for humoring me on this one. The fastest way to my heart is to totally agree with me when I start nonsensically screaming that everyone should be fired.)


You can say a lot of things about me, but I’m always true to my word.  A deal’s a deal.  I was so sure that the game last night was going to be a disaster with Lalime in net that I made a deal with Heather.  If Patty wins, Hank gets a contract extension.   So, henceforth and from now on, I will be advocating for Tallinder’s lifetime contract.  Let this be a hard lesson to you all: Don’t be an ass on twitter unless you’re willing to face the tough consequences.

4. Chicago really is a threatening team.  Basically the entire game I was marveling at their firepower.  Every line they rolled out had me covering my eyes and screeching, “Look out for THAT GUY!”  Their offensive depth is amazing, and unlike certain Eastern Conference teams (Caps), the Blackhawks defense seemed pretty darn reliable.  I’m proud of the Sabres for beating them.

5. I say this only half joking- Do you think it’s the system?  I was genuinely stunned to see the Sabres calmly go about their business last night without Miller in net to clean up their messes.  It has seemed to me that without some serious heroics from Crunchy, the Sabres record would be quite different- but maybe we’re not giving enough credit to the conservative system that Lindy has in place.

You know who the Sabres remind me of this year?  The Bruins from two seasons ago.  Remember that year when the Bruins went from a non-playoff team to THE MOST FRUSTRATING TEAM IN THE UNIVERSE, and then they almost knocked out Montreal (#1 seed) in the playoffs?  The Sabres are very committed to a no-frills system, and they’re just chugging along without too much flash.  I think you can argue that they’re a tad boring, but who gives a rip?  They’re beating good teams.   Beggars can’t be choosers, and my desire for playoff hockey went from “yes, please” to “desperate begging” about 18 months ago.  Keep it up, boys.

6. I’d say more about the actual game, but frankly I didn’t notice much.  I was too busy booing Soupy and biting the heads off of nearby babies to pay any attention.

Blackhawks: Yay or Nay?

All season long I’ve repeatedly said, “I like the Blackhawks,” and yet when it comes down to watching the Blackhawks, I almost always opt out.  They just haven’t grabbed me, you know?

I don’t know why they haven’t grabbed me because theoretically I like a lot of their players.  I like Kane, and Toews, and I looooove Patrick Sharp.   I like that Buff-lyn kid because he’s from Minneapolis and because for some bizarre reason his name is spelled B-Y-F-U-G-L-I-E-N.  I like that an old man beat out Huet for the goaltender gig.  Their coach is rocking a serious mustache, which is a quality I hold in very high esteem.  The Hawks are spunky, and cute, and underdoggy, and all of the things I usually enjoy in a non-Sabres hockey team, and yet, in spite of all these fine attributes, the Blackhawks just haven’t managed to steal my heart.

So, tonight is the night.

I have a STRONG aversion to the Canucks.  If I can’t love the Blackhawks on a night when they’re the only game on, they’re playing a team I seem to instinctively dislike, and I’m ravenous for playoff hockey, it’s just never going to happen.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

UPDATE 9:55: So far, no overwhelming love…except for Keith Jones.  Which is weird.  REALLY weird.  You know who I haven’t watched NEARLY enough of this playoff season?  Kelly Hrudey.  It’s my HD addiction.  It’s driven a wedge between Kelly and I.

UPDATE 10:18: PleasedontlettheCanuckswinthecup.  They make me feel a terrible combination of bored and suffocated.  I can’t breathe.  I can’t stay awake.  I can’t fall for the Blackhawks in these bleak conditions.

UPDATE 10:49:  Eff this game.  Seriously.  I TRIED to love the Blues, and I TRIED to love the Blackhawks, but the Canucks SUCK THE JOY out of EVERYTHING.  I’m giving up and going to bed.  I’ll try to fall for the Hawks again some other time.

RESULT: Sadly, nay.

Update 11:29: Now wait just a minute!  I turned off the television, ate a bowl of Frosted Mini-Wheats, cleaned the kitchen, and then my friend Roman texted me to turn the television back on, which I did JUST IN TIME TO SEE THE BLACKHAWKS TIE THE GAME!  I swear, the way the first two periods went I was convinced that the Blackhawks wouldn’t score again until next season.  WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

11:35: Oh for pete’s sake. (4-3, Canucks)

11:41: Well, at least it was all Soupy’s fault.  For old time’s sake. (5-3, Canucks)

FINAL ANALYSIS: Well, the Blackhawks didn’t really endear themselves to me since I only saw them score one goal and then they proceeded to eff everything else up, but that game wound up being better than I expected.  I think overall, my feelings about the Blackhawks reverted to my base level of affection over the course of this game.  I still want to like them, but I’m not entirely sure that I do.  (But I like them a whole LOT more than I like the Canucks.)

Early Playoff Observations

1. Keith Jones, please eat some snacks. Your non-smooshiness makes me sad.  You don’t have to be skinny to be beautiful!  Stop reading all those fashion magazines- they’re giving you unrealistic images of beauty.  Put down the Vogue, and start eating TastyKakes.  Cuddliness is your best feature, please don’t squander it just to please Engblom. (I know Engblom is behind this somehow. *shakes fist at sky* Engblllllommm!)

2. I know it’s a seven game series, but how hard are the Sharks and their fans freaking out right now?  I’ve come to enjoy the annual spring fizzle-out from the Sharks, but I do feel bad for their fans.  I mean, by now they’ve got to just dread the playoffs.  Right?  When the Caps dropped game one it was a bit odd, a bit enjoyable (sorry Frisbee), but mostly no big deal.  It’s one game, you know?  But when the SHARKS dropped game one, I thought, “The President’s Cup team needs to be blown up.  Right now.”  Heh.  Poor Sharks.

3. Playoff hockey is a totally different beast than regular season hockey and I love it.  The intensity is so refreshing after months of watching the Sabres (who never seem to have their act together in the “intensity” department) play teams who either clinched their playoff spot weeks ago, or teams that gave up all hope months ago.  Last night it really struck me how hard the teams were trying. For that reason it’s kind of difficult to imagine the current Sabres in the playoffs, but someday they’ll be back in, and when that day comes we shall rejoice.

4. Today is the kind of day that makes you want to sit outside and drink beer in the sun, except that it’s really not warm enough.  The sun is a tease.  Stupid sun.  (Just kidding, sun.  You know I love you.)

5. I think the Burger King “Square Butts” commercial is pretty funny in a objectifying-women-wildly-inappropriate-for-children kind of way.  I like square butts and I cannot lie.

6. The Blackhawks really won me over last night.  The Blackhawks are charming and feisty in a way that I feel like the Caps want to be, but the Blackhawks can actually pull it off.  (Again, sorry Frisbee.  But the Bruins were foxy!  WOOOO!)  Plus….Patrick Sharp.

Minnesota-Style

Tonight, Sam and I headed out for our annual Christmastime trip to the Xcel Energy Center to watch the Minnesota Wild get trounced.  Last year, the team doing the trouncing was the Red Wings, this year it was the Blackhawks.  While the game was a bust, the company was excellent, and in spite of the grim situation on the ice, there was much laughter and all-around merriment.

I really can’t express how much I love the Xcel Center.  I only have HSBC Arena to compare it to, but honestly, I can’t imagine a hockey arena being more beautiful.  The whole atmosphere is warm and extremely inviting.  This might sound crazy, but the lighting there is somehow softer and more intimate than HSBC.  I can’t really describe it, but if you ever get a chance to see a game in St. Paul, I highly recommend that you do so.

In addition to being pretty, Xcel Energy Center also has a wide variety of interesting beers and snacks.  We started the evening out right by ordering up a couple of gigantic Summit Pale Ales.  (Just as a side note, I totally convinced the new guy working the taps to pour us a giant micro-brew when the giant “Bomber” cups were clearly only intended to be used for the 22 ounce bottles of beer.   When I ordered our beers the kid said, “Well, I think the Bombers are only these Corona bottles, but I suppose I could just pour the Summit into the big glass.  I don’t see why I can’t do that.”  I quickly replied, “You should TOTALLY do that.  Do it!”  and he did.  I still haven’t figured out why 22 ounce beers have to come out of a bottle at the arena.  What’s uo with that?)  Later on, once I had a nice little buzz going, I realized that what I wanted most in the world were some mini-donuts.  Fortunately for me, the Xcel center sells mini-donuts.

21

Don’t even try to claim you don’t want to eat mini-donuts while watching hockey, because no one is buying it.

The game was….almost comically bad.  The Wild were not good.  At all.  Sam was in very high spirits considering, and I have to say, I was impressed with the overall spunkiness of the crowd.  At the game I attended last year the Wild were defeated by of a ruthlessly effective Detroit team, but tonight they were just plain B-A-D, and the crowd was UNimpressed.  There was booing of the home team after ALL three periods, and derisive cheering for the random lackluster Wild shot on goal.  I think of Minnesotans as very manicured and polite, so it was interesting to hear them let loose in giddy frustration.  While the crowd was clearly displeased, it also never lost its fundamental friendliness, and I was downright impressed with the camaraderie between fans.  I really hope that someday I get to see a spirited game in Minnesota, because I’d love to be apart of a celebrating Minnesota crowd.  The crowd deserved much better than what it got tonight.  On a personal note, it was fun to realize that although I’m a Sabres fan through and through, there is something fundamentally “Minnesotan” about how I express myself at a game.  I felt very at home with the Wild fans.  (Sadly, I also felt very at home with the Wild’s level of hockey.  Heh.)

The Blackhawks are really zippy and fun to watch.  Even Soupy.   I was not-so-secretly hoping that a disastrous Soupy spin-o-rama would lead to a Wild goal, but it was not meant to be tonight.  I even found myself kind of missing old sweaty Soupy.  When he’s not falling apart for your team on the ice because of his contract negotiations, he’s not so bad. Ya know?

The Hockey Gods really seem to want me to see hockey from a very specific angle this season.   When I got my Sabres tickets this year, I got half of them from a Sabres mini-pack, and half of them from Lizzie B’s season tickets.  I was very surprised to discover that through sheer coincidence, all those seats were in the same section (310).  I thought it was very charming to settle into our seats tonight and find myself with a familiar view.  One of the things I’ve enjoyed most about this season has been staking claim to a specific part of the arena, and I’m amused that this claim seems to extend beyond HSBC Arena.

3

Upper deck, home team shoots twice.  This is my territory.

All in all, great night.  Thanks Sammy McSammerson!



…A Blog About the Buffalo Sabres

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In accordance with the Fair Use Copyright Law, The Willful Caboose uses logos and registered trademarks of the National Hockey League to convey my criticism and inform the public of the Sabres' suckitude/badassitude (whatever the case may be). Photos on The Willful Caboose are used without permission, but do not interfere with said owner's profit. If you own a specific image on this site and want it removed, please e-mail me (willfulcaboose [at] gmail [dot] com) and I will be more than happy willing to oblige. (Special thanks to The Pensblog for their help with this disclaimer.)

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